The Auto Web Starter makes web thread-up safe and efficient

Web thread-up on tissue converting equipment is one of the most important tasks an operator can perform. Traditionally, it is also inefficient, wasteful, and potentially dangerous.

Why? The web thread-up procedure is well established and hasn’t been deviated from in decades. The production line is slowed to a jog rate (about 5 m/min.) and operators are required to climb in and out of equipment to guide web tails along the web path in close range of moving — and therefore dangerous — parts. The process is slow and inherently risky; stressors that are amplified by the need to get the line restarted as soon as possible.

Despite its flaws, manual web thread-up is the only possible solution for the need — or is it? Time, technology, and Valmet innovations are challenging and changing this widely held belief.

Auto Web Starter automates web thread-up, belt transfer, and restart

Valmet engineers recognized that traditional manual web thread-up compelled tissue manufacturers to sacrifice safety and efficiency for necessity. Finding an alternative was crucial, and an automated solution would be ideal.

The result of leaning into the challenge is the Auto Web Starter. This automated web thread-up solution simplifies the process with a series of three systems that work in succession:

  • Shuttle: A specially designed system of plastic shuttles and belts takes the place of operators manually guiding the web. Operators weave the web tail into the shuttles, attach the shuttles to the belt, and exit the machine to start the automated process from the HMI panel.
  • Transfer: When a line configuration dictates a web tail transfer between belts, the process is automated instead of manual. Web tail is automatically removed from the previous belt of the previous belt and transferred to the next belt while the machines run at low speed.
  • Re-start: With the rewinder running at low speed, full and consistent web spread is achieved quickly. The Auto Web Starter detects when the paper is completely spread, then automatically cuts the paper and re-starts production at full speed. A belt that runs beyond the rewinder carries any excess cut paper to a waste bin above the tail sealer. An operator safely removes the waste through a small door without interrupting production.

Transforming web thread-up pain points into benefits

The ingenious design and operation of the Auto Web Starter transforms pain points into benefits for tissue manufacturers in these key areas:

Increased operator safety

The primary advantage of the Auto Web Starter system is operator safety. There is simply no need for an operator to follow the web along its entire path to prevent paper jams. This means no entries for jog running with hands in close proximity to moving equipment parts — a far safer and less stressful working environment for operators!

The Auto Web Starter requires that an operator enter a machine only once, at the start of the process, to weave the web tail into specially designed plastic shuttles and attach the prepared shuttles to the belts.

From there, automation takes over. The operator exits the machine, closes the door, and starts the automatic web thread-up from the HMI panel. The system passes the web to the rewinder at a low and continuous speed, then automatically starts the normal run. Operators are fully protected and relieved of manual duties that place them in harm’s way.

Improved efficiency and performance

Unlike manual web thread-up, the Auto Web Starter functions with the line running at a continuous low speed with automatic transition to normal speed. Eliminating prolonged jogs may contribute to overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). Likewise, the simplified threading requirements for operators provides them with more time to attend to other skilled tasks and perform at even higher levels of efficiency.

Less waste

Traditional web thread-up commonly results in the first log being scrapped as waste. On the other hand, the Auto Web Starter can produce a usable first log, which helps tissue manufacturers further increase OEE. The Auto Web Starter helps tissue manufacturers integrate automation into web thread-up for a safe, efficient operation. Learn more from our experts.